Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 30: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865)
Born in Besançon on 15 January 1809 into a humble family, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon worked in a printing workshop from 1827 onwards. Together with three friends he bought himself such a workshop in 1836 but without commercial success. He obtained the Baccalauréat diploma and, in 1838, a grant which allowed him to resume his studies. Elected to the Parliament in 1848, he was condemned on 28 March 1849 to three years’ imprisonment for having insulted the president of the Republic, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. He published in 1858 De la justice dans la révolution et dans l’Église but the book was seized and Proudhon condemned, on 2 June 1858, to three years’ imprisonment for “outrage on the public and religious morals” and having “turned into derision a cult legally recognised by the State”. He had to flee to Belgium but was pardoned in December 1860. He returned to Paris in 1862 where he died on 19 January 1865. Proudhon published many works, and his complete writings number 26 volumes. As an economist, his main works are his three pamphlets on property (1840, 1841a, 1841b), Système des contradictions économiques (1846) and the part of De la création de l’ordre dans l’humanité (1843) dedicated to political economy. The content of Théorie de la propriété (1866) shows an evolution in his thought at the end of his life. Proudhon has a peculiar place among the 1848 revolutionaries. He reproached the socialists, the communists and the Saint-Simonians for...
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